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Catholicos contests Patriarch's claim

By Our Staff Reporter

KOTTAYAM, SEPT. 21. The Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan, Baselius Mar Thoma Mathews II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, has contested the claim of the visiting Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Zaka I Iwas, that it was the Orthodox faction which had upset the peace initiatives for resolving the factional feud in the Malankara Church.

Addressing a press conference here today, the Catholicos said that after the 1995 landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the Church case, a joint commission for unity efforts had tried at least seven times to bring peace to the Church. However, every time it was Thomas Mar Dionysius (the present Catholicos of the Jacobite faction, Baselius Thomas I) who foiled such efforts, he alleged.

Four of the bishops belonging to the Jacobite faction had met the Patriarch as part of the unity efforts during 1995-97, but he had expressed his inability, he said. In the year 2000, a dialogue was held with the secretary to the Patriarch (Kuriakose Mar Julios, who happens to be a member of the Malankara Church), but that too came to naught. Bishops of sister Churches such as Abraham Mar Clemis (Knanaya Jacobite Church) and Philipose Mar Chrysostum Mar Thoma Metropolitan (Mar Thoma Church) also had intervened. But that too failed.

Lay leaders' efforts

Efforts on the part of lay leaders from both sides, including the then Water Resources Minister, T.M. Jacob, and the Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy (who was then convener of the ruling United Democratic Front), in February 2002 were also foiled. According to the Catholicos, after talks, Mr. Chandy informed him that Catholicos Thomas I had told him that there would be a bloodbath (in case of a unity between the two factions).

The Catholicos said that as per a recent Supreme Court directive, the Government had the responsibility to ensure that the visiting Patriarch did not violate the visa norms. If he was found violating it, he would have to be deported, he said.

The Catholicos-designate, Thomas Mar Themothios, Paulose Mar Pakomios, Kuriakose Mar Clemis, Mathews Mar Epiphanius, Yuhanon Mar Milithos, the Lay secretary, Alexander Karackal, the deputy secretary, E.J. John, and others were present.

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